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SXSW Interactive Innovation Award Winners

March 12, 2019

By David Keene

The SXSW (South by Southwest) Conference and Festivals (March 8-17, 2019) recognized “the most exciting tech developments in the world” with its 22nd annual SXSW Interactive Innovation Awards ceremony, on Monday evening March 11th.

 

A bold claim – but at SXSW, the annual awards ceremony consistently lives up to its mission of celebrating finalists’ and winners’ “multifaceted and diverse ecosystem of technological achievements and creative work.” Because each year at SXSW – where so many conferences, panel sessions, industry meet-ups and events of all kinds compete for attention in what is really this country’s most ambitious and far-reaching tech conference – the Interactive Awards ceremony is always, for many, not only the best place to see so many examples of innovation in one place but a refreshing look at exciting developments outside of one’s own tech bubble. SXSW is so much about that – drawing ideas and inspiration from your own tech sector but also seeing and hearing so much from others that are pushing the boundaries and accomplishments in other sectors. If you haven’t been to SXSW, that is the most compelling reason to attend, and it’s a huge one.

 

Comedian and writer Beth Stelling emceed this year’s Awards ceremony. Thirteen awards and six special honors, including Best of Show, People’s Choice, Breakout Trend of the Event, Speaker of the Event, Meme of the Year and the David Carr Prize, were presented to innovators for exceptional work spanning categories from AI & Machine Learning, to the ever-evolving world of Smart Cities, Transportation & Delivery, Music & Audio Innovation, Health, Med, & BioTech, Speculative Design, and more.

A big trend in this year’s awards was technology for health care – in particular, delivering health care in new ways, leveraging new interactive tools that bring better care to more people. Examples of this trend included: the  Butterfly iQ, a portable ultrasound scanner that transmits images via an iPhone app, making it possible for doctors to do scans—whether of the heart, a limb, or a fetus in utero—in places without traditional ultrasound machines; AVEnueS, a VR experience designed to help human social workers practice and sharpen their decision-making skills in high-stress situations, including helping case workers make quick decisions regarding child safety that have tremendous repercussions; and a robotic duck from insurance company Aflac that was developed for children with pediatric cancer.

Honoring those exceptional innovators whose work has helped shape the connected world and who continue to guide the direction of the digital industry, this year’s SXSW Interactive Hall of Fame inductee was Kimberly Bryant, Founder and CEO of Black Girls CODE, a non-profit organization dedicated to changing the face of technology by introducing girls of color to the field of technology and computer science with a concentration on entrepreneurial concepts. Kimberly Bryant gave an impassioned acceptance speech Monday night, and explained how she’s mentored women in a field with so many roadblocks. And it was an inspiration to everyone, on a  level that – again – drew the audience out of their own jargon-filled tech bubbles and toward a better understanding of challenges, and accomplishments,  in so many sectors.

This year’s SXSW Interactive Hall of Fame inductee was Kimberly Bryant, Founder and CEO of Black Girls CODE.

A panel of judges comprised of industry peers and experts selected the Innovations Awards winners based on four criteria: creativity, form, function and overall experience, except for the People’s Choice Award. SXSW Interactive attendees voted for the People’s Choice Award at the second annual Innovation Award Finalist Showcase on Saturday, March 9, where the 65 finalists had the opportunity to exhibit and demo their work.

“The Interactive community would like to congratulate this year’s winners for their exciting work and break-through innovations,” said Hugh Forrest, Chief Programming Officer, SXSW. “We look forward to many upcoming achievements from the 2019 SXSW Interactive Innovation Awards winners.”

Here are all the winners:

2019 SXSW Interactive Innovation Awards, Winners:

 

AI & Machine Learning

Honoring digital systems which have the ability to adapt to changing data, stimuli, and circumstances; replicating learning, problem solving, and cognition.

Health, Med, & BioTech

Honoring the new technology that best improves the quality, efficacy, and cost-effectiveness of prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and care in health and medicine.

  • Butterfly iQ by Butterfly Network | Guilford, CT, USA.The Butterfly iQ is a portable ultrasound scanner that transmits images via an iPhone app, making it possible for doctors to scan patients right in their office—or even at home. This makes it possible to do scans—whether of the heart, a limb, or a fetus in utero—in places without traditional ultrasound machines.

Innovation in Connecting People

Honoring the best new way to connect and communicate with others.

  • Living First Languages Digital Platform by The Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation | Edgecliff, NSW, Australia.Runner-up for an Innovation prize at the festival, this project in Australia helps protect and preserve indigenous languages through interactive literacy apps. It was designed for languages that have few living speakers and are at risk of being lost. The project engages technology to record and preserve grammar and vocabulary from older speakers, then uses digital educational tools to then teach the language to children. The project was a runner-up for an Innovation prize at the festival.

Music & Audio Innovation

Honoring 2019’s best device or service that changes and improves the way we listen to and enjoy music.

New Economy

Honoring those redefining the exchange of goods and services, from the sharing economy, to virtual currency, to micro-finance, to mobile-device-payment systems, and beyond.

Robotics and Hardware

Honoring the hottest new advances in the field of robotics & hardware.

  • My Special Aflac Duck by Aflac, Sproutel, Carol Cone On Purpose & The Nation of Artists | Los Angeles, CA, USA

Smart Cities, Transportation & Delivery

Honoring innovations in eco-friendly or sustainable energy, transportation, delivery and IoT technology, making life in the connected world a smarter, cleaner, greener, and more efficient Internet of Everything.

Social & Culture Impact

Honoring the best new projects and technologies that focus on social & cultural impact and encourage communities and individuals to participate in and contribute to the betterment of society.

Speculative Design

Honoring the best new work that uses design to re-think products, systems and worlds and address the challenges, opportunities and possibilities of the future.

Student Innovation

Honoring the student with an exceptional interactive technology project or startup; both of which are the future.

Style & Wearable Tech

Honoring content creation and delivery that moves beyond passive viewership by providing a more immersive and engaging entertainment experience.

Visual Media Experience

Honoring content creation and delivery that moves beyond passive viewership by providing a more immersive and engaging entertainment experience.

VR, AR & MR

Honoring the new hardware that revolutionizes the convenience, comfort, functionality, efficiency, and fashion of having a device literally “on you.”

Special Honors

David Carr Prize

  • Jordan Holtzer. Awarded for the best essay submitted from high school, undergrad, or graduate students, Holtzer was this year’s recipient of the David Carr Prize. Created in 2016 to honor the late David Carr, a friend and great contributor to SXSW and the journalistic community, Holtzer’s essay was written based on the writing prompt 2050, Warmer Global Temperatures will Lead to…

Breakout Trend of the Event

  • Confronting an Era of Digital Distrust

People’s Choice Award

  • My Special Aflac Duck by Aflac, Sproutel, Carol Cone On Purpose & The Nation of Artists | Los Angeles, CA, USA

  Best In Show

For a complete list of SXSW Interactive Innovation Award finalists and winners:

https://www.sxsw.com/awards/interactive-innovation-awards/.

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